'I feel like I could fly'

'I feel like I could fly'
Colleen was taken to Poland and raised by her paternal uncle and grandmother.

WASHINGTON - Sitting in front of a computer in Washington, DC, Colleen Turzynski tucks a strand of hair behind her ear and straightens her shirt, excited but also anxious about the video call about to start.

The screen comes to life, and two elderly Chinese men and an elderly woman appear in the foreground.

Several others - 10 in all - pop their heads into the frame smiling, waving and saying: "Hi Colleen!"

Ms Turzynski, 25, has longed for this moment for years, and now she is overwhelmed. She breaks down weeping, reaches for a tissue, waves and smiles, all at the same time.

Afterwards, she tells The Sunday Times: "I have never met them before, but I've missed them for so long so when I saw them, the tears just started. I was happy to see them and the tears just burst out of my eyes."

Last Monday, The Straits Times reported the tragic story of the deaf orphan's search for her Singapore family. Her Singaporean mother, Lee Kui Yin, 39, Polish father, Kazimierz Turzynski, 35, and grandfather, Mieczyslaw Turzynski, 61, were murdered in a brutal stabbing attack in Clifton, New Jersey, in 1990.

It was a week before police found the bodies, and discovered 17-month-old Colleen, who had survived drinking water from a toilet bowl and eating Cheerios.

The toddler was taken to Poland and raised by her paternal uncle and grandmother, and lost contact with her mother's family.

An American and Polish citizen, she returned to the US recently to search for clues about her mother's family, and enrol in English language courses in Washington, DC.

She has a bachelor's degree in social work and a master's in financial management from Poland.

The Straits Times report triggered an outpouring of support from readers. Some offered to pay for her trip to Singapore, others offered her a place to stay if she visited.

Most importantly, her mother's family members read the article and wanted to reconnect with her too.

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